7.1 A REVIEW OF STATE, REGIONAL, AND LOCAL PLANS AND REPORTS
7.1.1 A Summary of Findings and Recommendations
7.1.2 A Review of the Reports
7.2 LOCAL LAND USE CONTROLS
7.2.1 Town Zoning Ordinances
7.2.2 Shoreland Zoning
7.3 STATE CONTROLS
7.3.1 Land Acquisition and Easements
7.3.2 Police Power Regulation
7.3.3 Educational and Service Programs
7.3.4 Fiscal Incentives or Controls
7.3.5 Planning and Research
7.4 FEDERAL CONTROLS
7.4.1 Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972
7.4.2 The Clean Air Act of 1970
7.4.3 The National Flood Insurance Program
7.4.4 Fish and Wildlife Service-Department of the Interior
7.4.5 Bureau of Outdoor Recreation-Department of the Interior
7.5 PRIVATE ACTION
7.5.1 Acquisition and Easements
7.5.3 Conservation Covenants
7.5.4 Land Trusts
Before new plans and policy recommendations can be made for the
Bay and its surrounds, past studies need to be reviewed both as a of
data and as a basis for future work. Three relevant statewide reports
were, therefore, studied along with two Bath/Brunswick source
regional reports and three town "comprehensive" plans. These reports
--Economic Development and Resources Conservation: A Strategy for Maine (Rodwin, et al, 1974).
--Tourism in Maine: Analysis and Recommendations (Northeast Markets, Inc., 1974).
--Maine Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (Maine Department of Parks and Recreation, 1972).
--Land Use & Soil Capability (Community Planning Services 1970).
--Open Space Plan (Community Planning Services 1973).
Local Comprehensive Plans
--Comprehensive Plan, Brunswick, Maine (1974)
--Richmond's Comprehensive Plan (1974)
--Bowdoinham's Comprehensive Plan (1975)
All these are reviewed in this chapter with the exception of
Outdoor Recreation Plan which is referred to in Chapter 5.0, Outdoor
Because of the wide range of topics covered in the above mentioned reports, it is impossible to abstract their recommendations without generalizing to a large degree. The comments that follow should, therefore, be seen as such. They seek to synthesize, in broad terms, and only deal with some of the more important issues that have relevance to Merrymeeting Bay.
The "A Strategy for Maine" report (Rodwin et al, 1974) calls for greater coordination between local and state levels by suggesting a Regional Planning Agency with power to plan and approve development. Such an agency in the Bay area would have jurisdiction over all land within one-half mile of the shoreline. They would initiate model developments, seek stricter development controls, increase public access to the Bay, and concentrate much of their planning on the following problem areas: Cooks Corner, the Topsham & Woolwich shorelines, and I-95 intersections in Richmond and Bowdoinham. The report further suggests state loans be provided for easements and/or the acquisition of key shoreland.
The "Tourism in Maine" report (Northeast Markets, Inc., 1974), like "A Strategy for Maine," also advises the establishment of a regional development authority in areas subject to future intense recreational and tourist activity. The report does not say Merrymeeting Bay will be or even might be such an area.
In terms of tourism and the Bay itself, the report infers that sight-seeing be encouraged as a desirable activity and that recreational vehicle camping be discouraged. It also points out that half the state's expenditures on resident tourists goes to provide services to hunters and fishermen. Since the Bay is a prime hunting area, it could be construed that much of this money does support these activities.
Tourism has a negative impact on low-income residents in that they suffer increased taxes through rising shoreline property values. The report suggests tax legislation to relieve this situation.
The Bath/Brunswick "Land Use and Soil Capability" report (Community Planning Services 1970) reiterates the concerns expressed in "A Strategy for Maine" by warning that "house-at-a-time" construction is eroding the rural countryside character of the towns. It calls for more effective plans and land use controls.
The regional "Open Space Plan" (Community Planning Services 1973)
emphasizes the preservation of "landscape quality" and suggests doing
this by zoning and/or outright purchase. Land trades or scenic
easements are also suggested. A regional agency for open space
acquisition and conservation purposes is proposed.
A regional pollution control district has also been recommended for the Bath/Brunswick area (see abstract). It is evident that the idea of a more powerful regional authority is advocated by a number of independent consultants for differing reasons. It is an idea that should be pursued.
The three comprehensive plans for Brunswick, Richmond, and Bowdoinham all refer to similar concerns about the future and suggest a range of means to deal with them. Common to all the plans is the threat of rapid, uncontrolled growth; especially that generated by the completion of I-95. These growth pressures have spurred strip commercial and residential developments as well as uncontrolled development at Cooks Comer. All three plans advocate strict development standards to hold uncoordinated development in check.
More industry is desired by the towns, too, as long as it is non-polluting and located outside the village areas in designated zones.
Public access to the water is another priority as is the protection of wetlands, floodplains, and significant natural areas.
In sum, the towns of Brunswick, Richmond, and Bowdoinham fear
uncontrolled growth yet desire slow progress and the preservation of
rural, small town values.
A. Economic Development and Resource Conservation: A Strategy for Maine (a proposal and report by a group of M.I.T. land specialists headed by Lloyd Rodwin and prepared for the Bureau of Public Lands, Department of Conservation, State of Maine, in September 1974).
Merrymeeting Bay is identified as a case study area that could be one of the foci of the "Office of Resource Conservation and Development" (ORCD), a new Executive Office proposed by the report authors. As a case study, the authors develop a "scenario of action" for the Bay. The purpose of this short summary is not to critique the report but rather to extract pertinent statements from it that can be useful to this study. The notes that follow are, therefore, somewhat random.
1. Issue is taken with the Shoreland Zoning Act on two counts; first, it is limited to a 250-foot band and does not ensure land beyond that fits within sound conservation principles; second, its interpretation varies from town to town making it inconsistent.
2. Uncoordinated commercial development can be expected around Cooks Corner.
3. The Topsham and Woolwich zoning ordinances lack provisions to adequately protect the shoreline of the Bay.
4. I-95 will make both Richmond and Bowdoinham particularly
vulnerable to development; careful control of highway spin-off
development is suggested.
5. Ad hoc piecemeal growth will characterize the West Bay as I-95 brings more tourists into the area; advance planning is needed.
6. East Bay is least affected by the above-mentioned pressures.
The report suggests an ORCD could coordinate state programs with local programs, initiate "model developments," and aid conservation through loans for fee or easement purchase.`
In the scenario developed by the authors, the following thoughts are offered concerning ORCD:
1. That an overall plan of action for the Bay be undertaken by a project team within the Southern Mid Coast Regional Planning Commission.
2. That this team evolve "specific developmental" standards for shoreline areas, standards more stringent than those in the local zoning ordinances.
3. That a first and second home housing market analysis be done along with an analysis of commercial, industrial, and recreational growth.
4. That the regional team be given authority over all development within 1/2 mile of the Bay.
5. That the Department of Fish and Game establish a wildlife preserve west of the Bay.
6. That private recreation and conservation organizations play a role in managing marshlands and that certain key shoreline be acquired to prevent their development.
7. That all private shoreline areas be subject to strict development controls and that they permit public access to the Bay.
8. That commercial recreation be concentrated at certain public landings.
9. That the Bureau of Public Lands acquire first option on all Bay front land over 10 acres for planned development under strict standards.
10. That Town Conservation Commissions purchase conservation easements on certain properties of high scenic value.
11. That an overall ceiling to development be set along with provisions to ensure development timing fit with regional plans.
Implementation is suggested through an intergovernmental compact between the SMCRPC team, the local towns, and the state (letters of cooperation are solicited from private groups). The authors suggest the Department of Environmental Protection approve the Bay plan in toto so as to give the agency sole development approval status.
B. Tourism in Maine: Analysis and Recommendations (a report to the Maine Vacation Travel Analysis Committee by Northeast Markets, Inc., Arthur D. Little, Inc., and William R. Fothergill, May 1974).
This recent study attempts to measure the magnitude and impact of tourism on the state's economy. It is an exhaustive in-depth report accompanied by a number of appendices. Unfortunately, because it deals with the state as a whole, little of the specific data in the numerous tables can be effectively abstracted and applied to the Bay area. Even tables that breakdown statistics by county cannot be extrapolated to determine facts and figures on tourism in the study area as there is no way of determining what proportion of an activity occurred there versus on the coast. The study does, nevertheless, contain some findings and make some recommendations that are pertinent to Merrymeeting Bay, especially as the Bay itself could become a more important tourist attraction. Much of the following is taken directly from the summary of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the study.
1. The 22.5 million tourist days spent in Maine during the four seasons in 1972/73 generated nearly $260 million in direct sales. This, in turn, generated another $200 million in indirect and induced sales for a total of nearly $460 million in total sales attributable in one way or another to tourism.
2. Tourism accounts for approximately 4% of wage and salary income in the State, 14% of the State tax revenues and 6.5% of the entire State's employment.
3. Hunters and fishermen are the most expensive tourists for the State to service. They cost the State about $2.30 per day. Since 75% of all hunters and fishermen are residents, half of all State expenditures for resident tourists are made to provide services to this group.
4. Between September 1972 and September 1973, Maine hosted an estimated 3.1 million non-resident tourists. Residents took an average of seven trips in Maine per person, accounting for 7.1 million tourists.
5. Massachusetts residents account for almost 30% of the tourists. Adding New Hampshire and New York residents, these three states account for over half of Maine's non-resident tourists.
6. Sightseeing is the most popular activity in the State. Almost 20% of all tourist days are spent in this activity.
7. The average resident tourist spends $4.70 per person per day and the average non-resident $18.35 per person per day.
8. Congestion is the primary cause of serious social and environmental impact. Crowding of beaches, roads, and parks by non-residents creates social resentment among residents.
9. Mechanical equipment used by tourists adds to environmental impact. Motor boats, snowmobiles, ski lifts, recreational vehicles--all intrude sharply into a natural scene. They create pollution of all types--air, water, noise, and visual.
10. Accommodations have certain inherent characteristics that affect the environment and social status quo...
11. A motel, for example, obtrudes because by economic necessity,
it must be highly visible with a large sign, lights, etc.
12. Other measures of the impact of accommodations are related to the efficiency of functions. Facilities located far from urban services with inefficient water, sewage, and solid waste disposal systems in most cases have greater social and environmental impact than those tied into urban systems.
13. Sightseeing is a desirable tourist activity by all standards. Sightseers spend at high levels; social/environmental impact is moderate; seasonality is not extreme.
14. Tourists participating in other activities fall generally into a mid-range on both social/environmental and economic scales. These activities--beaching, boating, hunting, fishing, etc.--represent the heart of traditional Maine tourism and any tourism policy must be sensitive to their needs.
15. In regard to accommodations, motels are extremely important in Maine by economic standards.
The main recommendation of this entire report is that the State of Maine adopt a policy that actively encourages tourism growth. The policy should have two major thrusts according to the authors. First support for the existing industry should be increased; and second, the state should embark on a new development program oriented to inland lakes and second homes. Furthermore, the "Tourism in Maine" report recommends that:
1. encouragement and support be provided to projects designed to increase sightseeing as a tourist activity in Maine and that existing attractions be more heavily promoted.
2. camping in recreational vehicles be discouraged in Maine as a matter of state policy.
3. a disproportionate share of public expenditures be allocated to road improvement, parking areas, new beaches, new parks and other similar projects in areas that bear the brunt of tourism.
4. the State establish or work with communities to establish fair and equal sign control policies as a means to limit visual pollution.
5. new tax legislation be considered to provide relief to low income residents who suffer from increased property taxes related to rising land values.
6. a new State development agency be established to promote investment in second home communities oriented to inland lakes.
7. a regional development authority be established in the Rangeley-Flagstaff area to promote and control private and public investments in that region with the long range objective of establishing other authorities for similar purposes in other prime development areas.
All the above points need to be taken into consideration before recommendations concerning the way growth and change in the Merrymeeting Bay area should occur can be drawn up. Tourism is not usually seen as an "industry" and source of economic livelihood for a community. Its positive and negative effects need to be weighed in this light especially as I-95 will make some of the Bay area towns highly accessible to tourists.
C. Land Use and Soil Capability. (A report prepared for the
Bath/Brunswick Regional Planning Commission, published in January
1970, authored by the Community Planning Services, Boston).
The first portion of this report deals with land use. The intent of the second portion of the report, however, is unclear.
Nevertheless, some statements help clarify how the consultants view growth surrounding Merrymeeting Bay and some of the conclusions act to point out future problem areas. The planners foresee a continuation of "house-at-a-time" construction along the main old town roads--particularly in the Brunswick area on the roads leading to Portland and Lewiston. Furthermore, they anticipate a change in the traditional function of the Bath and Brunswick downtown areas as automobile-oriented shopping areas outside of town (on Route 1 and at Cooks Corner) develop.
Other points raised in the text on land use that bear reiteration include:
1. there is a need for more effective land use controls to protect swamp and marsh areas.
2. the towns should look to alternative means of accommodating residential growth that at present occurs endlessly along old town roads.
3. a "positive rural lands policy" is needed.
4. reuse plans for the Brunswick Naval Air Station should be kept in mind.
In the soils section of the report, suitability of septic sewage is mapped. Very generally this mapping shows that the soils most suitable for residential sewage occur in the Bath/Brunswick and Topsham urban areas, and in scattered areas along the future I-95. Other areas of general suitability occur near public roads on the west of Merrymeeting Bay. Few good areas occur to the east of the Bay. A sewer utility map in the report shows that only the built-up sections of Bath/Brunswick and Topsham have sewer service or have proposals in line for sewer service.
D. Open Space Plan. (A report prepared for the Bath/Brunswick Regional Planning Commission by Community Planning Services, Boston, March 1973).
The purpose of this report was to develop a comprehensive Open Space Plan for this region. It does this, in part, by mapping where additional land should be acquired (or protected) in each town and by listing how this should be achieved (through zoning or acquisition). It is not clear how land acquisition areas were determined, however, it seems there is a visual/scenic bias to the selections.
The thrust of the recommendations is not toward day-use area parks but toward conservation of wildlife habitat and the heightening of "visual identity" of urban areas. The development of trails for snowmobiles is considered important as is the preservation of the landscape quality. (This refers to undeveloped highland, marshes, craggy ledges, and prominent views.)
Two immediate means of implementing the plan recommendations are suggested; first, through zoning and subdivision ordinances, and second, through outright purchase. Land trades, scenic easements, and land gifts are also suggested.
A further implementation tool suggested involves the creation of
regional agency to "acquire, hold, and develop land for open space
purposes." A one dollar/capita tax to fund this agency's programs is
recommended; this would amount to $80-$100,000 for the twelve towns
in the Bath/Brunswick region.
The most significant recommendations relative to Merrymeeting Bay on a town-by-town basis are:
1. the acquisition of West Chops Point as a regional park.
2. the acquisition of Lines Island and other adjacent small islands.
3. the acquisition of riverfront park land and of Thorne Head.
4. the use of large lot zoning for the steep slope area around Butler Head.
1. acquire recreation land at Beach Point.
2. zone lowland east of Beach Point as flood plain.
1. acquire the islands in the lower Androscoggin.
1. flood plain zoning along the Kennebec.
2. large lot subdivision zoning on the east bank of the Eastern River to the north of South Dresden.
1. acquire development easements on islands in the lower Androscoggin (e.g., Mustard Island, Driscoll Island).
2. acquire Cathance Gorge for recreation site.
3. define the Cathance and Muddy River flood plains.
In addition, the study recommends the acquisition of development rights (or easements) along the banks of the Cathance, West Branch, and Abagadasset in Bowdoinham; the acquisition of the river banks on the lower Androscoggin; the acquisition of riverbank development rights on the Kennebec north of Swan Island in Dresden; acquisition of the river banks (or easements on the river banks) of the Cathance in Topsham; and finally, the acquisition of development rights for all the Bay shoreline in Bowdoinham.
E. Comprehensive Plan, Brunswick, Maine, 1974 (written by the Brunswick Planning Board).
This recent plan document was written by the Brunswick Planning Board in anticipation of the drafting of a revised Zoning Ordinance. It is essentially a policy statement intended to act as a guide to growth, growth which is considered imminent.
The new extension of I-95 to Augusta as well as the existing improved access between the towns of Bath and Brunswick are expected to put Brunswick under considerable development pressure. In view of this, the plan suggests a number of changes to be introduced. Among the suggestions are the following:
1. relate soil types and capability to zoning districts and performance criteria.
2. encourage greater building densities in the "cove" (village) area.
3. adopt more stringent standards to preserve vulnerable wetlands and flood plain areas.
4. adopt ordinances that prevent "poor development;" long term performance bonds are suggested as a possible means to achieve this as are more stringent development standards.
5. develop zoning policies that encourage a greater spectrum of housing types.
6. zone to protect the town from a proliferation of shopping areas.
7. encourage new industry to locate in the corridor between Route 1 and the Bath Road.
8. improve access to the shoreline and develop recreation space near the water.
The town anticipates that private septic tank sewage systems will continue to be the main sewage disposal method, although the sewer district is upgrading the municipal sewer system.
Evidently the town of Brunswick has a land acquisition program and has already acquired certain islands in the Androscoggin.
The Brunswick Planning Board notes that the town presently enjoys a pleasant character with a fairly well defined urban area and open rural lands surrounding it. They express a desire to maintain this growth pattern yet acknowledge the fact that ribbon (strip) development is occurring. They see, too, that the existence of basic utilities and services and good access in the vicinity of Cooks Corner and the Brunswick Naval Air Station represents an opportunity for encouraging growth to occur there.
F. Richmond Comprehensive Plan (prepared by the Richmond Planning Board).
Richmond's Comprehensive Plan is a 46-page document with a number of illustrative maps. It is a thorough study done by the Planning Board with assistance from students at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham. The Plan reports on the town's history, its present status, its resources, citizen opinions, and the future.
The following is not meant to be a complete summary of the Plan but rather a point by point summary of those items most pertinent to the Merrymeeting Bay Study.
1. Two sources of pollution in the Kennebec originate in Richmond. First, the present treatment plant cannot handle all the waste discharged into it; some bypasses directly into the Kennebec. Second, a stream runs through the town dump carrying pollution with it.
2. Richmond has three schools, Buker School (K-5), a new Junior High (6-8), and an old Senior High (9-12).
3. There are two industries in the town, Eaton Shoe Company with
about 320 employees and Clarostat, an electronics firm that employs
about 110 persons.
4. The report recognizes the impact I-95 will have on the town in terms of new development which will, in turn, put pressure on schools and the police and fire departments among others.
5. The town has seen a marked increase in the number of new home starts since 1969 when two homes were built and 1973, when over 26 new homes were constructed. In addition, sixteen mobile home permits were issued in 1972.
6. Richmond is seen as being an area in the state that will experience dramatic population growth lying as it does within a circle of 20-mile radius that already contains a fifth of the state's population.
7. The plan recommends "careful and restrained" development that respects rural open space and the town's natural resources, many of which are mapped on resource maps published in the report.
8. In a "Citizens' Opinion" survey that polled some 20% of the town's families, a variety of opinions were elicited. Generally, the respondents opted for a small town type atmosphere yet the majority expected the town to grow. Half hoped growth would occur slowly. Over two-thirds of those answering the questionnaire felt that new industry and new housing should be located outside the village.
1. The plan suggests the creation of a Richmond Development Corporation to buy or build buildings for industry and to work for the betterment of the town's economic future.
2. A summer open-air farm, craft, and antique market as an annual event is suggested.
3. A need for a hotel or motel with restaurant, in harmony with the character of the town, is seen as well as a need to encourage craft stores.
4. The Kennebec, when clean, is seen as a recreational resource and a commercial marina would be considered an asset. The protection of wildlife habitat for sportsmen is also considered important.
5. The Comprehensive Plan describes strip development as the greatest potential threat the town faces in its rural areas. Grouping such development is seen as an alternative.
6. The growth rate of about 25 dwelling units per annum is viewed as ideal; this reflects the present rate and would mean a doubling of the town's present population to 5,000 people over a 20-year period.
G. Bowdoinham's Comprehensive Plan (prepared by the Bowdoinham Planning Board 1975).
In February 1975,Bowdoinham adopted a Comprehensive Plan. That plan was written by the planning board with assistance from the SCOGIS (footnote 1) group. The main points of the plan are summarized here.
Footnote 1. School of General and Interdisciplinary Studies,
University of Maine, Portland-Gorham.
Bowdoinham is characterized as a residential community with its work force being employed mainly in the Bath/Brunswick area. However, it is suspected that the town will be subject to development pressures in the next 20 years--primarily because of I-95. As this is contrary to the wishes of the majority of residents who wish to maintain the village/rural character of the town, the report stresses the need to adopt comprehensive land use regulations.
The report points out that among its natural resources the town can count flood plains and farmlands, forests and wetlands, the last being particularly important as wildlife habitat. The town people evidently wish to maintain the shoreland areas as natural areas and the plan calls for this through the adoption of shoreland zoning.
Mention is made of the 500-acre State Game Management Area on Reed's Point and of the town's desire to keep this area as such.
Among those measures suggested to control growth are a larger minimum lot size (one acre in the village, two acres in the outlying areas), expansion of the building code, a sign ordinance, strict enforcement of the State Plumbing Code, and a requirement that developers provide proof of their financial capability to complete a project. The plan calls for the use of measures to encourage cluster developments and for the drafting of a well-written subdivision ordinance that encourages a mix of housing types.
Bowdoinham has only two small industries employing less than fifty people. The majority of town people, however, favor more industry preferably--light non-polluting ones. The best location for this would be west of the village where proximity to water and future sewage lines--as well as I-95--is considered an advantage.
Property is taxed at 75% of market value and assessed at 30 mills ($30 per $1000 of valuation). As tax revenues are based almost entirely on property, any increases in the town operating budget is passed on directly to property owners.
The plan expressly calls for the careful control of highway-related development near the I-95 intersection through land use regulation.
Those sections of the plan dealing with Government, Community Services, and Recreation add little of general interest to regional planning and make few recommendations other than the need for a regional dump.
A questionnaire in the Appendix to the Comprehensive Plan provides valuable information on resident attitudes. The main results of that survey, to which 25% of the town's population responded, are listed below.
1. 74% felt Bowdoinham should grow slowly.
2. 59% wanted one-acre lots in the village.
3. 38% wanted one-acre lots outside the village, 54% preferred two-acre lots there.
4. 43% of the residents feel more stores are needed, the rest feel there are enough now.
5. 72% wanted more industry.
6. 61% felt more housing was needed.
7. 76% saw a need for more recreational area.
8. 60% wanted industry outside village.
9. 61% wanted new housing to be located outside the village.
Of those responding to the questionnaire 70% worked out of town. The following is a breakdown of the types of employment of the respondents:
Government service 8%
Skilled & Semi-skilled 33%
Business people 11%
Local land use controls can be broad and powerful tools capable of protecting natural and cultural values in a community. Towns around Merrymeeting Bay can utilize both educational and regulatory mechanisms to ensure that development occurs at a pace and manner compatible with local desires. Among the existing mechanisms are Town Zoning Ordinances (Title 30 M.R.S.A.), Shoreland Zoning (Title 12, M.R.S.A.), Subdivision Ordinances (Title 30 M.R.S.A.), Comprehensive Planning (Title 30 M.R.S.A.), and building and housing codes. Institutions involved in the utilization of these mechanisms include Regional Planning Commissions, Planning Boards, and Conservation Commissions. The extent to which these mechanisms and institutions are employed is displayed in Table 7-1. In addition, the following paragraphs discuss the status and effectiveness of the principal control mechanism, zoning. The discussion is broken down into two parts: Town Zoning and Shoreland Zoning.
Table 7-1 MUNCIPAL PLANNING SURVEY Merrymeeting Bay Area Towns SZ RPC PB CP CC ZO SO HC BC MH CIP Bath x x x x x x x x x x Brunswick x x x x x x x x x x x Topsham x x x x x x x x x Bowdoinham * x x x x x x Bowdoin * Richmond x x x x x x x Dresden x x x x x x x x Woolwich x x x x x x x SZ - Shoreland Zoning RPC - Regional Planning Commission Member PB - Planning Board CP - Comprehensive Planning Process CC - Conservation Commission ZO - Zoning Ordinance SO - Subdivision Ordinance HC - Housing Code BC - Building Code MH - Mobile Home Ordinance CIP - Capital Improvement Program * State-imposed Shoreland Zoning. SOURCE: A survey of Municipal Planning Activity, State Planning Office, Augusta 1972 (updated by Reed & D'Andrea 1975).
Zoning represents a tried and trusted means of controlling and guiding development. Most of the towns around the Bay have adopted some form of zoning, be it that represented by Shoreland Zoning or the more conventional Town Zoning Ordinance that defines districts or zones and then stipulated uses permitted within them.
In order to determine how the zoning mechanism can be used and perhaps improved to better the quality of life in the Merrymeeting Bay area, the various ordinances for the towns have been studied, their main points summarized and their collective shortcomings noted. In a later section of this report the findings of these analyses are interpreted into definitive recommendations (see Chapter 8).
Of the eight communities within the study area all but two, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham, have enacted Shoreland Ordinances; in these two towns a State Imposed Ordinance is in effect. Five of the towns have Zoning Ordinances; they are Richmond, Topsham, Brunswick, Bath, and Woolwich. The key points in the Zoning Ordinances for these five towns are summarized below, analyses of the Shoreland Ordinances for these same towns and Dresden follow.
A. Summary Descriptions
Richmond's Zoning Ordinance was adopted June 20, 1974. It contains six districts, most of which impinge on the study area. A Shoreland Zone is made part of the Ordinance but is discussed separately in this report. The remaining districts in the town are the Resource Protection, Agricultural, Village, Residential, and the Commercial-Industrial District.
Lot sizes in Richmond are related to their location. Shore lots can be a minimum of 20,000 square feet (with a minimum shore frontage of 100 feet). Where lots are adjacent to the public sewer system, the minimum size permitted is also 20,000 square feet. Areas not served by a sewer system must have lots of not less than 60,000 square feet.
Below is a summary of the main features of each of the five districts previously listed.
Resource Protection District
The district is primarily designed to prevent pollution and protect wildlife habitat. It has been utilized along the banks of the stream feeding Pleasant Pond, on either side of I-95 and in the stream valley to the northwest of the village. The zone permits open space use. Agriculture, gardening, and timber harvesting are permitted upon the granting of a Conditional Use Permit. All other uses are prohibited.
About 80% of Richmond falls into this zone which permits single and two-family dwelling units including mobile homes within it. Small commercial and industrial structures on lots of less than one acre are also permitted yet food operations and service stations are not allowed, Churches, schools and public buildings are allowed in the district.
This is a small district centered around the village of Richmond. All those uses permitted in the Agricultural District are permitted as well as the following after successful Conditional Use Permit application: multi-family units, cluster developments, mobile homes, and larger commercial and industrial buildings.
This district extends westward from the village to I-95 on either side of Route 197. Uses permitted in the Agricultural District are also allowed in this district. Multi-family units, cluster development, mobile homes and mobile home parks are allowed upon authorization of a Conditional Use Permit.
Any commercial or industrial use is permitted if approved through the Conditional Use Permit procedure. No residential structures are permitted. Richmond has three such zones, in the village, and at the junctions of Route 197 with I-95, and Route 201. The largest of these zones is in the northwest quadrant of the I-95 -Route 197 intersection; it appears isolated by resource protection areas.
Richmond has a Planned Unit Development (PUD) clause which provides for new concepts in house siting. A minimum development area of ten acres is required for a PUD and provisions for common land maintenance are among the other set requirements.
Residential densities for PUDs and for multi-family units are limited to the same densities as set for single family units whereas a density of about ten mobile homes to the acres is allowed in mobile home parks in the Residential District.
Topsham has four zoning districts in addition to the recently adopted Shoreland Zoning. They are: urban residential zone, commercial zone, rural residential zone, and industrial zone.
Urban Residential Zone
This zone includes and surrounds the village of Topsham; it follows the Androscoggin east to Lovers Lane Road and extends west almost to I-95/Lewiston Road junction. Uses permitted in the Urban Residential Zone include:
--single family units, churches, municipal buildings, rest homes, etc.
--multi-family units, tourist homes, variety stores, funeral homes, etc., require appeal before permission will be granted.
A minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet is required. For multi-family units the lot size is 10,000 square feet plus 2,000 square feet per unit beyond the first.
All uses permitted in the Urban Residential Zone are allowed in the Commercial Zone plus the following:
--parking lots, banks, hotels, offices, restaurants, retail businesses, etc.
--filling stations, theaters, garages, and industrial uses, etc., may be permitted on appeal.
The zone is located along the Lewiston Road between Maine Street and the I-95 intersection.
Rural Residential Zone
This zone which includes the majority of the town's land, including much of the Cathance and Muddy River drainage area, permits all uses allowed in the Urban Residential Zone as well as:
--agricultural uses, gravel operations, motels, multiple dwelling units, saw mills, mobile homes, and mobile home parks.
--trailer parks, commercial/industrial uses, auto junk yards, etc., will be permitted on appeal provided they meet certain minimum standards.
Minimum lot sizes in this zone are: single family units (one acre), multi-family residential units (10,000 square feet plus 2,000 square feet per unit beyond the first unit). The minimum lot size for industrial lots is 40,000 square feet. The minimum size for mobile homes in parks is only 2,500 square feet.
Any industrial use not injurious to health or noxious is permitted. Three such zones exist; one on the Androscoggin at Pejepscot, another south of the Commercial Zone, and west of the Urban Residential Zone.
The town of Brunswick has ten zoning districts yet only one of these, the Countryside Residential Zone, lies within this report's Study Area. The minimum lot size permitted in this zone is one acre; a larger minimum lot size (two acres) is required in the town's Forest and Farm Zone, a zone lying west of the town.
Countryside Residential Zone
As the town is currently considering substantial revisions to its ordinance, it is not worth dwelling on the details of the present Countryside Residential District. However, a brief listing of permitted uses and uses permitted after successful appeal is in order.
The following are permitted as a matter of right:
--single-family dwellings on separate lots, travel trailers, places of worship, parks, country clubs, agricultural uses, timber removal, home occupations.
The following are the more important uses permitted on appeal:
--mobile homes and mobile home parks, campgrounds, clustered residential development, schools, governmental buildings, hospitals, summer camps, boat launching facility, craft studios, marinas, veterinary establishments, stables, outdoor recreation facilities conducted for profit, private airport.
Two other provisions in the Countryside District are of general interest. First, clustered residential development that will allow net densities up to 12 dwelling units to the acre are permitted on appeal. This provision thus allows a developer who is innovative and who is prepared to meet quite strict "performance standards" to "receive" a "bonus" of a higher density (the district minimum being one dwelling unit per acre). The standards in this case require that the development be connected to town water and sewage systems, that adequate open space areas be provided and, among others, that a performance guarantee or bond be made out to the town.
Second, Brunswick allows mobile homes and mobile home parks through an appeal and permit procedure. Thus residential densities in the Countryside District in mobile home parks are about 7 or 8 units to the acre. Like Bath, Brunswick requires detailed plot plans along with a sanitation certificate and municipal engineer's report. The minimum park size permitted is eight acres. Paved roadways, street lights, landscaping and on-site or municipal sewage systems are also required. The minimum mobile home parking space or lot specified is 5,000 square feet.
Brunswick has a special section in the Zoning Ordinance dealing with flood plain areas along the Androscoggin River. No building permits for structures for human occupancy will be issued in these areas where only woodland, grassland, agricultural, civic, governmental, or outdoor recreation uses are permitted.
The current city of Bath Zoning Ordinance creates nine zones. (The Shoreland Zoning Ordinance is a separate document and is reviewed later in this report.) Of the nine zones, three are particularly important relative to the Bay's shoreline; they are the Country Residence District and the Urban and Suburban Residence Districts. In addition, in the city's Central Area, a Marine Business District exists between the shoreline of the Kennebec and Commercial and Front Streets.
Single family, duplex, and apartment buildings are permitted in all three residential districts, the minimum lot size for the Country Residential Zone being one acre for single family dwellings and 60,000 square feet for apartments. Farms are permitted in the Suburban and Country districts, although swine raising is not allowed in the former. A variety of uses are permitted on appeal in each of these zones, the more notable ones being:
In the Country Residential Zone: mobile homes and mobile home parks, camp grounds, places of worship, schools, governmental buildings, playgrounds, non-profit or education center buildings, hospitals, and nursing homes, country clubs, marinas, lumber and building supply yards, drive-in theaters, bottling plants, repair shops, manufacturing plants, trucking terminals, saw mills, and petroleum product storage.
In the Suburban Residential Zone: places of worship, schools, governmental buildings, playgrounds, non-profit or education center buildings, hospitals and nursing homes, country clubs, manufacturing plants.
In the Urban Residential Zone, the same uses as listed in the Suburban Zone are permitted on appeal with the exception of research facilities which are not allowed in this zone.
Other items of interest in the Ordinance relating to the Residential Zones concern minimum lot sizes for mobile home parks (3 acres) and industrial, wholesale, and transportation uses (2 acres).
Bath has quite specific regulations governing mobile homes and mobile home parks. These regulations state that a permit for operating a park will be issued by the Code Enforcement Officer if plot plans, a sanitation certificate, and a City Engineer's Report are submitted. Standards for the park include a requirement that the roadways be paved, that parking areas be of gravel and that the park be suitably landscaped. Street lights are required and all homes are to be connected to the Bath Sewer System or an on-site system.
Individual mobile homes must meet stated requirements as well before a permit is issued. These requirements call for proper landscaping, year-round walkways, off-street parking, and underskirts of long- lasting materials.
The issuance of building permits in the City of Bath is subject to evidence of satisfactory subsurface soil conditions. Soil suitability must be based on on-site inspection.
The Woolwich Development Planning Ordinance seeks to achieve a number of objectives. Chief among them are those seeking to: encourage industrial and business growth, maintain a single family character to the town, allow growth that does not destroy the unique environment or property values, conserve natural resources, allow access to waterways and provide open space for recreation.
The Shoreland Zoning Provisions are made part of each of the Districts described below: Residential District, General Purpose District, Rural District, Resource Protection District.
The majority of Woolwich is designated as a Rural District. Within the Merrymeeting Bay Study Area; however, all four districts are represented. The Day's Ferry area falls into the Residential District; much of the shoreline of the Kennebec south of Day's Ferry is designated General Purpose. The remainder of the study area is Rural with the exception of specific Resource Protection Districts; these include the Tristam Coffin Wildflower Preserve, Chops Creek, and an inlet east of Lines Island. Apparently Lines and Thorne Islands are both in the Rural District.
The uses permitted by right or by appeal to the Planning Board within each district are described below, as are the shoreland provisions that are incorporated in these same districts.
The minimum lot size permitted in this district is one acre. This is also applicable to shoreline lots where frontage is limited to a minimum of 200 feet and the minimum depth is set at 250 feet; all buildings on the shore are to be set back 100 feet from the high water mark. Single family units (including mobile homes) are permitted by right while churches, schools, hospitals, multiple dwellings, and cluster developments will be permitted if approved by the Planning Board. Hotels, mobile home parks, businesses and industry are not allowed.
General Purpose District
All land uses permitted in the other districts are permitted in this district (as are mobile home parks, non-noxious industry and business). In shoreland areas only water-related business and industry is allowed and then only as a special exception. The minimum lot for all uses is one acre.
This district is intended to be set aside mainly for farm and forest land uses. The minimum residential lot size is 1 1/2 acres with a minimum frontage of 200 feet. All uses accepted in the Residential and Resource Protection Districts will be permitted in this district.
Resource Protection District
The prime purpose of this district is to protect shoreland and conserve natural beauty and wildlife habitat. Uses allowed include harvesting wild crops, non-intensive recreation, foresting, aquaculture, and agriculture. No clear cutting or the use of pesticides is permitted. After review and provided they do no harm, public facilities for education or nature study are permitted as are single family dwellings. Business, industry, hotels, mobile home parks, and clustered development is not permitted. Although it remains unclear in the ordinance, Woolwich apparently prohibits mobile home parks in all districts.
Woolwich has made provision for Clustered Residential Development in its ordinance. The minimum acreage for a cluster development is 20 acres. The performance standards required are, however, formidable considering that the net residential density permitted is only one unit per 1 1/2 acres and that a performance bond is required of the developer.
B. Town Zoning Ordinance Commentary
Whereas the preceding review of Town Ordinances in the Merrymeeting Bay area summarizes their content this section considers their effectiveness, in terms of the goals of the towns themselves, in relation to each other, and in relation to the Bay itself (see Map 23).
Perhaps the single most glaring deficiency is the flexibility of the restrictions in the rural parts of the towns, especially through appeal. None of the towns have any provision to set aside prime agricultural land; all permit small lot (1 to 1 1/2 acres), single family housing anywhere in their least restrictive, rural-type zones. If growth over the next decade is substantial, much farmland will be lost to development and the rural landscape that characterizes the towns today (and that is a scenic resource valuable to the state's tourist industry) will be diminished. The present zoning pattern does nothing to inhibit this.
Of all the towns, Richmond has made the best progress in this regard. Minimum lot sizes are 60,000 square feet and dense land uses such as mobile home parks, multi-family housing, etc., are prohibited in their Agricultural District. Topsham, in contrast, allows these uses as well as industrial uses, saw mills, auto junk yards, motels, etc. Brunswick permits mobile home parks and clustered residential development with up to twelve dwelling units per acre, on appeal, in a Countryside District that otherwise permits only one-acre lots. Similarly, Bath permits apartment buildings and manufacturing plants in its Country Residential Zone through the appeal procedure. To allow such higher density type developments, at random, in these districts is to compromise the rural or country character the district presumably seeks to achieve.
The towns need to make decisions as to what they wish to preserve, and where, and to then draw up strict ordinances to guide development into this pattern. To do otherwise is to ask for an undifferentiated sprawl of one-acre "country" lots--a super subdivision that devours farmland in the name of growth and progress.
The only town to act to protect flood-prone areas is Brunswick; all the towns of the Bay area should incorporate Flood Plain Area Zoning into their ordinances where it is found to be needed.
The new I-95 highway passes through and has intersections in Topsham, Bowdoinham, and Richmond; yet only Richmond has reacted to it through its zoning mechanism. Richmond has zoned land on either side of the highway Resource Protection in recognition of the need to preserve the rural character of the "view from the road" and also in recognition of the negative effects the highway has specifically in terms of noise pollution, Both towns can learn from Richmond's example.
Richmond has further recognized the potential I-95 creates for development by creating a Commercial/Industria1 district at its intersection with Route 197. Nevertheless the location of the district northwest of the intersection and cradled by a Resource Protection district is questionable. Better land for commercial uses seems to be available to the southwest of the intersection.
Zoning related to mobile home parks varies in each of the towns. Woolwich apparently prohibits such parks as does Dresden. Topsham, Bath, and Brunswick permit them in their "rural" or countryside residential zones and Richmond restricts their location to its Residential Zone--an area to the west of the village. This last approach seems most reasonable for it recognizes the legitimacy of the mobile home park as a viable residential environment yet treats it as a higher density type use most suited to a primarily residential (as against rural) district. All the towns, however, should look towards incorporating more "quality of life" type improvements into their mobile home park requirements.
Some of the Bay area towns have incorporated special or "innovative" provisions into their ordinances. The most notable being those dealing with cluster and planned unit type development. The intent of these is to encourage better subdivision and/or site planning through the provision of less restrictive setbacks and yard size requirements and the encouragement of so-called "common" open space. Unfortunate the good intentions behind these provisions have been lost in a maze of "requirements." The zoning as it now stands provides no incentive to the developer--it's easier and less costly for the developer to avoid innovation when the opposite should be the case. The concept of providing the developer with a bonus (like a slightly higher permitted density) would help rectify this situation.
Richmond has a Planned Unit Development Ordinance but requires that they be a minimum of ten acres and have the same density as conventional subdivisions. Brunswick, on the other hand, has a Clustered Residential Development section that permits up to twelve dwelling units per acre in any of the residential districts, districts where the lot size is one acre. Woolwich's Cluster Residential Development clause is very confused; as currently drafted it allows net densities of only 1 1/2 acres per unit or parcels of 20 acres or more. This has the effect of punishing a developer rather than rewarding the developer for being innovative.
C. Planning Implications
The preceding comments suggest that the following steps be taken by the Bay towns to upgrade and make more effective their present zoning:
1. Restrict development through large lot zoning (10 to 20 acres/unit), conservation zoning, and agricultural zoning in those areas of prime scenic and/or agricultural value.
2. Limit higher density type development (2 or more units/acre) in rural areas to areas of good access only.
3. Eliminate permitting drive-in theaters, industrial type uses, large manufacturing plants, etc., in predominantly rural/countryside areas and zone areas specifically for these uses, (This is particularly applicable to Topsham, Brunswick, and Bath.)
4. Zone to take into account the possible future impact I-95 may have on land uses adjacent to it (i.e., buffer zone alongside the highway and commercial type zoning at intersections).
5. Restrict mobile home park development and multi-family and apartment development to areas zoned predominantly for such uses.
6. Improve or incorporate Planned Unit and cluster Development provisions that provide incentives for developers to build innovatively.
7. Utilize the "bonus" concept as a means to encourage quality development.
8. Incorporate Flood Plain Zoning measures into existing zoning ordinances.
9. Revise and improve the existing cluster and Planned Unit Development ordinances.
NOTE: A discussion of new types of zoning being utilized else-where in the country that may have application to the Merrymeeting Bay area is incorporated into this report in Chapter 6.0.
If any single, general critique can be leveled at all the towns, with the possible exception of Richmond, it is the lack of firm direction implied by their ordinances. No strong physical plan to guide development is inherent in the present ordinances or district maps. The results of this weak input on the official level are beginning to show up as strip commercial and residential development along the once rural town roads. Strong and forceful new zoning provisions such as those listed above need to he adopted.
The Mandatory Shoreline Zoning Act requires municipalities to enact zoning and subdivision controls for land within 250 feet of a water body. The controls are established specifically to:
1. Further maintenance of safe and healthful conditions.
2. Prevent and control water pollution.
3. Protect spawning grounds, fish, aquatic life, bird and other wildlife.
4. Control building sites, placement of structures, and land uses.
5. Conserve shore cover, visual as well as actual points of access to inland and coastal waters and natural beauty.
Obviously this act has particular significance for Merrymeeting Bay and the municipalities around the Bay have interpreted it in various ways, basing their interpretation on a model ordinance drafted by the State Planning Office. This section reviews that model ordinance along with the main features of the individual ordinances drafted by the towns. Neither Bowdoin or Bowdoinham have, as yet, developed their own Shoreland Zoning and are subject to a state-imposed ordinance which imposes a temporary moratorium on all development within 250 feet of designated water bodies.
In late 1974 the Southern Mid Coast Regional Planning Commission published an analysis of all the zoning ordinances in their region with emphasis on shoreland zoning. This chapter draws much of its material from that publication (Vinal 1974). The following is a brief summation of the key features of the State Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances taken from the Southern Mid Coast Regional Planning Commission report.
*Variously termed Shoreline Zoning or the Mandatory Shoreline Zoning and Subdivision Law.
Three shoreland districts are suggested: Resource Protection, General Development, and Residential. Areas that should be identified as Resource Protection Districts include wetlands, floodplains, and slopes of greater than 25% with unstable soil. General Development Districts are those areas with intensive residential uses and recreational, commercial, and industrial uses.
The most important guidelines in the state's model ordinance suggest that:
--no building be permitted in the Resource Protection District
--Planning Board permits be required for all principal structures to be placed in the Residential and General Development Districts
--Planning Board permits be required for "impact" development; i.e. campgrounds, public utilities, uses projecting into water bodies, etc.
--the following minimum requirements be enforced:
lot size - 20,000 square feet
shore frontage - 100 feet
setback from water - 75 feet
lot coverage - 20%
Land Use Standards
Detailed standards governing the following activities are included in the state's guidelines--most of which have been incorporated into the individual town shoreline ordinances:
2) Beach construction
4) Shoreland clearing
5) Erosion & sedimentation
6) Mineral exploration
7) Uses projecting into water bodies
8) Road construction
9) Sanitary standards
12) Timber harvesting control
13) Water quality protection
The final section in the model ordinance deals with the administration of the ordinance. Again the Bay area towns have adopted similar provisions dealing with (1) code enforcement officer and board of appeals, (2) permits, (3) appeals and variances, and (4) enforcement. Further information concerning the manner in which each town deals with code enforcement is found in Table 7-2. That same table rates the overall effectiveness of the present shoreline provisions in the Bay area towns. No one town is adjudged as "weak" in this respect; Bath, Brunswick, and Topsham rate as "adequate" and Dresden, Richmond, and Woolwich are rated as having "strong" and effective provisions. Each of these municipal ordinances is reviewed hereafter.
A. Summary Descriptions
Richmond's Zoning Ordinance (which is reviewed previously) incorporates specific shoreline provisions within it. A Resource Protection District that prohibits all building is thus part of the zoning ordinance. Another district, the Shoreland District, permits structures as conditional uses on approval of the Planning Board. The district covers a 250-foot wide strip alongside the west bank of the Kennebec, on both sides of the Abagadasset River, and on the east bank of Pleasant Pond. The following uses are permitted: open space, agriculture, and gardening, timber harvesting, accessory uses, boat houses, and piers and docks. In addition, Conditional Use Permits for the following may be approved: parks and private recreation, campgrounds, commercial uses that require shoreline locations, single- family, two-family, and multi-family residential development.
Although Richmond sets a minimum of 20,000 square feet for shoreland lots and limits shore frontage to 100 feet and setbacks to 100 feet, provision 4.2.4 (2.a.2) requires the aggregate shoreline frontage and setback be not less than 500 feet; this apparently contradicts the minimum lot size requirement.
Topsham's Shoreland Zoning Ordinance creates three districts, Resource Protection, Residential, and Commercial-Industrial. The districts are
TABLE 7-2 SHORELAND ZONING RATINGS BY TOWN** MUNICIPALITY PROVISIONS RESOURCE PROTECTION OVERALL DISTRICTS RATING Scenic & Historic Impact of Development Code Enforcement (a) Permits for Residential Structures (a) Houses Allowed Size (b) Concept Understood BATH ) A . A CEO PB No M . A A Bowdoin State-Imposed Ordinance Bowdoinham " " " BRUNSWICK A A CEO CEO A Dresden* A A CEO PB No B S S RICHMOND BI BI No F S S TOPSHAM S A CEO CEO/PB Yes M W A WOOLWICH S S CEO BI Yes M S S Towns in capital letters have townwide zoning. *Indicates that the shoreland provisions have received final state approval. RATING SYSTEM S = more than adequate, strong (on overall rating, it means no changes recommended by SMCRPC staff) A = adequate ton overall rating indicates that a few changes might be recommended by SMCRPC staff) N = weak, insufficient, not adequate (as determined by SMCRPC staff) (a) Code Enforcement: CEO = Code Enforcement Officer, BI = Building Inspector, PB = Planning Board (b) Resource Protection District Size: F = few areas placed in RPD, M - many areas placed in RFD (or a sizable portion of the shoreland), B = a banding technique used. **Extracted from Table in "Zoning in the Southern Mid Coast Region," November 1974, Frances E. Vinal.
limited to a distance of 250 feet from the Androscoggin, Cathance, and Muddy Rivers and an equal distance from the Bay itself and they coincide with the present zoning districts. Hence the Resource Protection District falls within the town's Rural Residential Zone, the Residential (shoreland) district falls within the Urban Residential Zone, and the last district within the respective Commercial and Industrial Zones. The table below shows what land uses are permitted with or without the granting of a Conditional Use Permit.
TABLE 7-3 TOPSHAM SHORELAND LAND USE RESTRICTIONS* District Permitted Uses Conditional Uses Resource wild crop harvest single-family (1. a. min) Protection recreation without forestry structures agriculture wildlife management recreation with structures marinas Residential single-family two-family & multi-family seasonal single church, public buildings family recreational uses accessory structures marinas Commercial/ commercial single-family & two-family Industrial industrial multi- family utilities recreation uses accessory structures *Note that the uses listed are only the most important ones.
As can be seen from the table, Topsham's Resource Protection District does allow single-family structures on minimum lots of one acre through a Conditional Use Permit procedure. The effectiveness of the protection is thus dependent on the interpretation the Planning Board puts on the criteria it uses for granting the permit. This is not an ideal situation.
Setbacks and minimum frontage requirements within Topsham are the same as those set forth by the state in its model ordinance.
Chapter 13 of the Brunswick Zoning Ordinance spells out Shoreland Zoning Regulations. The zoning map for the town has not as yet been changed to reflect different districts in the general shoreland category; at present the regulations state that they apply to "all land areas within 250 feet, horizontal distance, of the normal high water mark" of any pond, river, or salt water body.
Any structure proposed to be built in the Shoreland area must get a permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Such a permit will only be granted if it can be proven that the structure will meet quite strict environmental criteria that are spelled out in the regulations.
The regulations in Brunswick's Shoreland Zone are basically those that are suggested in the state guidelines.
The city of Bath has a Shoreland Zoning Ordinance comprised of three districts, Resource Protection, General Development, and Limited Residential-Recreational. The first includes all areas where development would adversely affect water quality, productive habitat, biotic systems, or scenic and natural values. The General Development district is defined as an area with four or more structures per 1,000 linear feet or areas of two acres or more devoted to intensive uses. Other measures are also used; all, however, related to the density of development and use as the means to define the district. Areas not within the first two districts fall into the third, the Limited Residential-Recreational District. Most of the shoreline within the city of Bath falls into this last category, including Lines, Woods, Crawford, Ram, and Sturgeon Islands. That portion of the Androscoggin River shoreline between the city boundary and Bay Road is designated Resource Protection as is that part of the Kennebec shoreline between North and Drummond Streets.
Generally, the following uses are permitted in all three districts: recreational uses (without structures), forest management, wildlife management, soil and water conservation, mineral exploration, and the harvesting of wild crops. A permit is required in the Resource Protection District for timber harvesting and agriculture as wel1 as for road construction, facilities for educational, scientific, or nature purposes, and piers and docks, etc.
No structures are permitted in the Resource Protection District and only residential units are allowed in the Limited Residential-Recreational District. Residential, commercial, and industrial structures are permitted, after Planning Board approval, in the General Development District.
Lot sizes in Bath's Shoreland Districts may be a minimum of 20,000 square feet or 10,000 square feet if served by a sanitary sewer system. Maximum coverage is set at 20% and the minimum share frontage is 100 feet; no setback minimum is recorded.
The Southern Mid Coast Regional Planning Commission report states that they see the ordinance as a strong one although it is felt that special standards for marine-oriented uses or industrial uses might have been incorporated.
Dresden's Shoreland Zoning Ordinance is very complete and goes beyond the minimum standards set forth in the state's model ordinance. The ordinance includes two districts only, a Resource Protection District and a Limited Residential-Recreational District and applies to all land within 250 feet of the Bay, the Kennebec and Eastern Rivers, and Mill Brook (so-called) and Nequasset Brook (so-called) and the latter's two feeder brooks.
Dresden has adopted a "banding" technique for its zoning whereby a portion of the shoreline tin most cases the first 50 feet) is, for example, designated Resource Protection and the remainder (200 feet) Limited Residential/Recreational. The town has also designated some marsh areas that are larger than the 250-foot band as broad Resource Protection areas.
TABLE 7-4 DRESDEN SHORELAND DISTRICT - PERMITTED USES District Permitted Uses Permitted after Approval* Resource recreational uses timber harvesting Protection forest management agriculture wildlife management recreational buildings wild crop harvesting parks, piers, docks, etc. road construction Limited as above plus: dwelling units Residential- parks & recreation accessory buildings Recreational areas piers, docks, etc. District small education, private sewage disposal scientific, or systems nature buildings timber harvesting *Either by the Code Enforcement Officer or Town Planning Board.
As the table above shows, no principal structures are permitted in the Resource Protection District and only residential structures and small educational, scientific, or nature study buildings are allowed in the other district. Minimum lot sizes are set at one acre, minimum shore frontage is 200 feet, and the setback requirement is 75 feet.
B. Shoreland Zoning Commentary
The map on the following page shows the extent of the various Shoreland Zoning ordinances around the Bay and arranges the different districts into six categories. The categories simply make it possible to view the implications of each town's ordinance from the same base--an exercise which is difficult to accomplish when "Resource Protection" takes on a different meaning in each municipality.
It is immediately apparent from the map that each community has interpreted the intent of Shoreland Zoning differently. Nowhere does the same zone occur on both sides of a town line. Interpretations as to what is best around the Bay shoreline also vary from town to town. The extent to which further variances occur is not fully apparent from the map because the permit procedure introduces more room for variation. In other words, individual land use decisions that rely on approval by a permit procedure are subject to different interpretations by different officials (code enforcement officers, building inspectors, or planning board members).
It is also apparent from a study of the map that Richmond and Dresden have used the Resource Protection District (where it allows no structures) creatively to conserve valued and fragile wetlands and shoreland, whereas the other communities have been less specific. Furthermore these two towns have recognized that a 250-foot strip is, on occasion, inadequate to protect a large resource; in these cases they have enlarged the Resource Protection District area to ensure complete protection. The table below shows the variations that occur from town to town concerning residential lot size or shoreland sites.
Residential Lot Restrictions for Shoreland Zones Town Lot size Shore frontage Setback Bath 10-20,000-sq.ft. 100 -- Bowdoin & Bowdoinham - temporary moratorium in effect Brunswick 20,000 100 75 Dresden 43,560 200 75 Richmond 20,000 100 100 Topsham 20,000 100 75 Woolwich 43,560 200 100
This table shows that no structures can be closer than 75 feet to the high water mark; it also shows, when seen in context with the Shoreland Zoning Use Analyses map, that the Ray could, in theory, be almost surrounded by houses at 100 to 200 feet on center. Of course, what occurs in Bowdoinham is still a matter of conjecture and, again, much will depend on the interpretations put on applications for construction via permit procedure.
C. Planning Implications
From the preceding the following conclusions can be drawn:
--differences between permitted uses on either side of town lines should be resolved.
--most of the towns need to remodel their ordinances to make them more in tune with actual site conditions and shoreland characteristics .
--the 250-foot strip is inadequate in some cases and should be extended.
--the lot size restrictions are not strict enough, especially in terms of the 100-foot minimum frontage requirement.
--the amount of shoreline devoted to Resource Protection (i.e. no structures) could be revised upward, especially if more detailed information on soil and slope conditions is utilized.
These statements simply serve to point out that, although the concept of Shoreland Zoning is admirable and the law itself represent environmentally progressive legislation, it is still in the teething stage and requires much refinement. This sentiment is echoed in the recent State Planning Office document "Shoreland Zoning in Maine," Jan. 1975.
That same document points to a number of other problems associated with shoreland zoning; most important relative to some of the Bay area towns are the problems of administering and enforcing the act. The municipalities have neither the funding, the expertise, or the staff to rigorously apply the principles of shoreland zoning and to monitor and enforce its requirements. The results are thus less than optional. This, however, should not cause the basic concepts to be questioned but rather it should cause changes and improvements to be made.
The status of shoreland zoning in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham will be reexamined by the state on August 7, 1975, if they have not enacted their own ordinances by that time. As Bowdoinham is presently putting together a comprehensive plan, it is probable that they will have an ordinance by then. Bowdoin, however, is not actively planning and the State Planning Office will probably have to make up a comprehensive shoreland ordinance for them. (It should be noted that this will have no impact on the Merrymeeting Bay Study area as no shoreland in the area qualifies for inclusion as shoreland.)
Any commentary on Shoreland Zoning would be remiss not to point out that the concept could be construed as exclusionary (see Coastal Zone Management in Maine: A Legal Perspective, Harriet P. Henry, Dec. 1973, p. 14). Evidently it has not as yet been challenged along these lines; but the effect is to make access to the shoreline for the pubic awkward if not impossible. This thinking gives weight to the idea of making subdivision ordinances require access to the shorefront common to all dwellers in the subdivision. It further suggests that subdividers could be required to provide public access points to the Bay or its tributaries, especially if that point is important to users of the Bay.
Harriet Henry's work suggests some possible means for controlling the problem of too much shoreline development referred to earlier. First, the 106th Legislature repealed a criterion in the act that stated a subdivision must be shown to "not place an unreasonable burden on the ability of local governments to provide municipal or governmental services." Although adoption of this clause now would introduce more red tape at the local administrative level, it could help control development pressures. Second, performance standards could be used as guidelines for development rather than specific lot sizes and frontage restrictions. This would give more flexibility to the present ordinances and provide opportunities for grouping buildings rather than stringing them out ad infinitum. Performance standards could use number of buildings per linear mile or square mile for example.
It is worth noting that Richmond has provided some flexibility in its ordinance by permitting Planned Unit or Cluster Development. The town has also effectively' increased the amount of frontage required by tying its frontage and setback minimum to an aggregate figure of 500 feet. The illustration below clarifies this point. Unlike Richmond, Woolwich has unwisely disallowed cluster housing in its shoreland district.
One final measure that might be used to increase the amount of protection afforded the Bay area shoreline is to have property' owners volunteer to have their land designated Resource Protection (no structures permitted). There could be tax advantages to this move for the property owner and the effect would be the same as a restrictive easement.
This entire commentary has shown that despite its good points Shoreland Zoning does present problems. The enforcement and administrative aspects have been mentioned; shoreland zoning also increases the number of hurdles any developer must overcome prior to project approval, especially if the Site Location Law is involved. All this suggests more expertise is required to handle the act and brings up questions of how this can be provided at the local town level.
State level land use controls consist of, generally, the power to acquire fee simple or easements to property, to regulate via the police power, and to encourage wise land use through fiscal incentives and education. A list of state agencies and their powers is presented in Table 7-5. A following discussion summarizes state programs applicable to Merrymeeting Bay by type of involvement.
Several state agencies have the authority to acquire land, in part
or in total, through purchase, gift, or eminent domain. Those with
power of eminent domain include the Bureau of Parks (Department of
Conservation), Department of Inland Fisheries and Game, and the
Department of Transportation. Power companies, quasi-public agencies,
also have eminent domain powers. The Bureau of Forestry (Department
of Conservation) can acquire land holdings or easements through
purchase or gift only. The Department of Marine Resources can set
aside flats and waters for research purposes for up to ten years.
Most existing state-owned property in the Merrymeeting Bay area was acquired through purchase or gift. Powers of eminent domain were used by the Department of Transportation in the process of planning and building Interstate 95. In addition, Central Maine Power Company has exercised its eminent domain powers to acquire rights of way for several power lines (see Section 6.2.3, Electric Power).
With the exception of highway and transmission line rights of way, all other state property in the Bay has been acquired by purchase or gift.
1. Swan Island and Little Swan Island which include 1,235 acres, purchased by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Game in the early 40s. An additional 325 acres of adjacent tidal flats were acquired in 1952.
2. The Beatrice Baxter Memorial State Forest in Topsham given to the state of Maine in 1969. This 125-acre tract is presently managed by the Bureau of Public Lands, Department of Conservation.
TABLE 7-5 STATE LAND USE PLANNING/CONTROLS IN MERRYMEETING BAY Acquisition Public Service/ Fiscal incentives Planning/ capability Regulatory Education or controls research gen. public/ towns landowners towns landowners DEPT, CONSERVATION Bur. Parks & Recreation X* X Bur. Forestry X X X X X Bur. Geology X X STATE PLANNING OFFICE X1 X DEPT. AGRICULTURE X3 X X STATE DEVELOPMENT OFFICE X X X DEPT. FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION Bur. Taxation X X DEFT INLAND FISH & GAME X* X X X DEPT. MARINE RESOURCES X2 X X X DEPT. ENV'L PROTECTION X X X X DEPT. TRANSPORTATION X* X X DEPT. HUMAN SERVICES X X PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION X X Central Maine Power X* X * Include eminent domain powers. 1 Through Coastal Zone Management monies, some monetary assistance may be available to towns through Regional Planning Commissions for Code Enforcement, Legal Assistance, and other land use planning/control programs. 2 The DMR has the right to set aside land for research for a period of 10 years. It does not acquire full rights. 3 Disseminates information through Districts composed of towns.
Vinal, Frances E. 1974, Zoning in the Southern Mid Coast Region. Southern Mid Coast Regional Planning Commission, Bath, Me.